20 Worst Signings of the 2013/14 Premier League Season
The Premier League set a new record for transfer spending during the 2013/14 season with £760 million splashed on new signings. But it wasn't all money well spent.
In this slideshow, we look at the worst buys of the campaign and explain what made the players such bad values or unpopular with their new sides.
The 20 names will be ranked in a descending order, with the very worst coming in at No. 1. Poor performances, lack of goals, injury-prone players, defensive mishaps, hefty price tags and more—there are a lot of factors that determine why these players failed to make an impact this term. Loan moves and free transfers are included.
Read on to find out which players share the dubious honour of being the duds of the top flight this season.
20. Iago Aspas
When Iago Aspas signed for Liverpool over the summer, it looked like a good move for the Merseyside club—they were to be without Luis Suarez for the first five games of the Premier League campaign, and they needed more options in attack.
Aspas scored 12 goals and registered five assists for former club Celta Vigo in 2012/13. He was one of Celta's key players in a season threatened by relegation and one in which the side put away just 36 goals between them.
But playing for the Galician club in the lower reaches of La Liga is one thing—being up against the likes of Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling for a place in Liverpool's attack is another.
And so the season went. After looking out of his depth, Aspas found it increasingly difficult to break into the side and made just five starts all term.
19. Kim Kallstrom
Arsenal have needed midfield reinforcements all season, and when Aaron Ramsey got injured in December, that need became crucial ahead of a congested fixture period.
The Gunners, well...they found a midfielder. However, he was injured, and Arsenal knew it when they signed him.
On the final day of the January transfer window, Kim Kallstrom agreed to a loan deal which would keep him at the Emirates until the end of the season. Prior to the move going through, Kallstrom's medical showed that he had damaged vertebrae and was facing six weeks on the sidelines, as seen on BBC Sport.
"It crossed my mind to not do the deal," Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said on BBC Sport. "I wouldn't have signed him if we had another two or three days, but it was on Friday at 5pm."
Kallstrom played a total of 130 minutes in the Premier League for the Gunners. His one high point came against Wigan in the FA Cup semi-final penalty shootout when he slotted his spot-kick past Latics goalkeeper Scott Carson.
18. Martin Demichelis
Manchester City, for all their millions, raised a few eyebrows over the summer when they elected to buy Martin Demichelis from Atletico Madrid.
City could have acquired Demichelis on a free transfer in July, but the Argentine joined Atletico instead. Two months later, the Manchester club paid £4.2 million to buy him from Diego Simeone's side.
The former River Plate, Bayern Munich and Malaga defender is experienced, and he won a glut of silverware during his time in the Bundesliga, but he is noticeably past his best. At 33, he was hardly a signing for the future.
Demichelis was ruled out through injury for eight of City's first 20 games of the season, was sent off for the Citizens in the Champions League against Barcelona and made a series of blunders in his 27 top-flight games for Manuel Pellegrini's side.
In Fairness, he hasn't been that bad. However, for a club with City's huge wealth, they should have set their defensive targets a little higher.
In the wake of criticism directed his way, Demichelis had the last laugh when he lifted the Premier League trophy at the weekend.
17. Danny Graham
Hull City signed Danny Graham on loan from Sunderland last summer in a bid to improve their goalscoring problems from the previous season in the Championship.
Since signing with the Black Cats for £5 million in January 2013, Graham had not scored a single top-flight goal for the club.
The 28-year-old then failed to get on the scoresheet with Hull until his 13th appearance for Steve Bruce's side, a 1-1 draw with Swansea on December 9.
It was Graham's first goal in 11 months, and it was to be his only strike for Hull who, after a further eight games, decided to terminate the striker's season-long loan and send him to Championship side Middlesbrough.
16. Maarten Stekelenburg
A lot was expected from Maarten Stekelenburg when he joined Fulham over the summer. However, for both parties, it became a season to forget.
The former Ajax and Roma goalkeeper has good pedigree—he has won numerous titles in the Eredivisie, has been capped by the Netherlands over 50 times and represented the Oranje in the 2010 World Cup final. Comparisons were being drawn with Manchester United's previous keeper, Edwin van der Sar, when Stekelenburg signed for the Cottagers on June 5.
But things did not go according to plan. The 31-year-old was unlucky to be forced off in his first game for the club through injury and spent the next six games on the sidelines.
After returning on October 21, Fulham won against Crystal Palace and then proceeded to lose eight out of the next nine top-flight games.
Stekelenburg was then dropped for four games, came back into the side and lost six games out of eight before spending the rest of the season on the Craven Cottage bench.
The blame for Fulham's poor form cannot be laid squarely at the Dutchman's door, but blunders like the one he made against West Bromwich Albion, where three points escaped the side in the 86th minute, are damning of his first season in England.
15. Adel Taarabt
The Adel Taarabt we saw at Fulham early into the 2013/14 season was exactly the kind of player who the Cottagers didn't need if they wanted to beat relegation.
A player whose brilliance shows itself in the very briefest of flashes spent six months at Craven Cottage this term on loan from Queens Park Rangers.
He may not have cost an exorbitant transfer fee, but Taarabt's performances (or lack thereof) in a Fulham shirt were less than inspiring.
He made just 12 top-flight appearances out of a possible 23 without scoring a single goal and registering just one assist. His loan spell was terminated in January, and QPR did not want the 24-year-old back at Loftus Road, as reported by David Hytner in The Guardian.
To add insult to injury, Taraabt scored on his debut after signing for AC Milan on loan in January.
14. Tiago Ilori
Tiago Ilori cost Liverpool £7 million when he signed for the club from Sporting Lisbon in September.
He went on to make a grand total of zero top-flight outings for Brendan Rodgers' side. The 21-year-old got three run-outs in the Under-21 Premier League before being shipped off to La Liga, where he joined Granada on loan until the end of the season.
13. Andy Carroll
Andy Carroll's expensive price tags will always come back to haunt him.
If his £35 million fee to swap Newcastle United for Liverpool seemed outrageous in 2011, then so too must the £15 million that West Ham paid to acquire his services last summer.
The 25-year-old striker has not been dealt a kind hand when it comes to injuries, but the fact remains that he has featured in only 15 Premier League games for West Ham this term.
Carroll has also only scored two goals for the Hammers this season. It is a disastrous return for the money spent on the English forward.
12. Mesut Ozil
Mesut Ozil made the switch from the Bernabeu to the Emirates for the cool sum of £42.5 million in early September, and North London went umlaut crazy.
The Gunners broke their transfer record to bring Ozil on board, and suddenly, their conservative summer spending became wildly exciting.
Ozil appeared to slip seamlessly into life in the Premier League, registering four assists in his first two games for Arsenal and bagging two goals in his fifth.
However, like a season in reverse, Ozil's bright start began to dull as the campaign went on. He looked tired, lackluster and fairly nonchalant, with Arsene Wenger admitting that the German international needed a rest over the busy Christmas period, as seen on ESPN.co.uk.
Without a top-flight goal in 11 matches, a penalty miss against Bayern Munich in the Champions League saw Ozil's confidence take a knock.
By the season's end, the 25-year-old had scored just five goals and registered 10 assists. Perhaps next term will be his time to shine, but for now, I think we all expected a little more from the pricey former Real Madrid man.
11. Aleksandar Tonev
Aleksandar Tonev was personally recommended to Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert by club hero Stiliyan Petrov, as reported by Paul Collins in the Daily Mail.
It's probably the only endorsement the Bulgarian is likely to get this season.
In a disappointing season for Villa, Tonev stands out as one of the worst signings of the 2013/14 campaign. He's started six games all season, completed 90 minutes on just one occasion and spent 13 of the side's last 16 games on the bench.
The winger did not score a goal or register an assist (in any competition) since signing for Lambert's side on July 1.
As reported in the Mirror by James Nursey this week, Tonev is already available for transfer this summer.
10. Stevan Jovetic
It's not that Stevan Jovetic has played badly, but for £22 million, you'd expect a bit more than two Premier League starts and three goals all season.
In fairness to the 24-year-old, injuries have played a large role in keeping him out of Manuel Pellegrini's starting XI this term.
However, when given the chance, Jovetic has failed to live up to the heady expectations that accompanied his switch from Fiorentina over the summer.
A terrible dive against Chelsea in the FA Cup did little to help his cause in February, as seen in Metro from Hannah Duncan.
9. Kostas Mitroglou
It's hard to say who got the raw end of this deal, Kostas Mitroglou for deciding to join Fulham, or Fulham for deciding to sign Kostas Mitroglou.
The Greece international was in fine form for Olympiacos, having fired 14 goals in 12 Super League games and adding a further three in the Champions League, in which he was poised to face Manchester United in the quarter-final of the competition.
Then, he joined Fulham.
The 26-year-old cost £12 million when he came to Craven Cottage on deadline day in January. After joining the club and already suffering from a knee injury, Mitroglou ended up playing in just three top-flight games—for a total of 153 minutes.
Back in February, Cottagers boss Felix Magath deemed him unfit, as reported by Duncan Bech in the Daily Mail.
For Fulham and Mitroglou, it was a season and a signing to forget.
8. Jozy Altidore
You can see why Sunderland were attracted to Jozy Altidore last summer. The powerful United States striker had scored 23 goals in 33 games for AZ Alkmaar in the Eredivisie and eight strikes in six games in the Dutch Cup.
However, the Premier League is a different beast to the Eredivisie, and goals are not quite as easy to come by, as the Black Cats and Altidore have found out to their chagrin.
"Dozy Jozy Altidore's a real miss for the fans," read an Express headline in December, and in 30 top-flight games, the 24-year-old bagged just one goal for Sunderland as they battled to beat relegation this season.
Altidore has been here before—when he was loaned to Hull City in 2009/10, the American striker managed just one goal in 28 Premier League games.
7. Nicolas Anelka
Nicolas Anelka's move from Juventus to West Bromwich Albion must go down as one of the worst signings of 2013/14.
The Frenchman came to the Hawthorns on a free transfer, however—on a reported £40,000 per week—his arrival in the West Midlands turned out to be a very costly mistake—in more ways than one.
Anelka played 12 Premier League games for the Baggies, spent a lot of time on the sidelines through injury and didn't score a goal until facing West Ham in December. It was against the Hammers that Anelka celebrated with a controversial "quenelle" gesture, which led to him being banned and fined £80,000.
The former Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Man City, Bolton and Chelsea player was sacked on March 14 for gross misconduct after the 35-year-old announced he was leaving the club on social media, as seen on BBC Sport.
6. Pablo Osvaldo
In August, Southampton broke their transfer record to bring Pablo Osvaldo to St Mary's—spending £15 million on the former Roma striker.
In January, he was gone, shipped out on a loan deal to Juventus.
In the five months that Osvaldo was at Southampton, he made 13 Premier League appearances and scored three goals. He was involved in a touchline brawl when the Saints took on Newcastle at St James' Park and was told he'd never play for Southampton again after headbutting teammate Jose Fonte in training, as reported by Sami Mokbel in the Daily Mail.
Osvaldo was banned for two weeks by the south coast club, and as Mokbel wrote at the time:
A large number of players no longer want forward involved in the first-team once his club ban expires.
'He (Dani) is not the most popular of people among the football staff,' said a Saints insider. He has not done much to get along with his team-mates and hasn't made much of an effort to contribute to the team-spirit.
'He comes across as arrogant and that he is too good for the club and that has rubbed players up the wrong way.'
5. Andreas Cornelius
Andreas Cornelius signed a five-year contract with Cardiff City last summer in a club-record deal worth £7.5 million, as seen on BBC Sport.
The 21-year-old joined the Welsh club from FC Copenhagen, where he was the Danish Superliga top scorer in 2012/13.
Seven months, zero starts and eight Premier League performances later, it was back to Denmark for the striker—who was without a goal to his name for the Bluebirds.
Labelled a "downmarket Toyota" by Cardiff owner Vincent Tan, as reported by Craig Hope in the Daily Mail, Cornelius was sold back to his former club for a much lower sum of £3 million, as seen on SkySports.com.
4. Roberto Soldado
So much promise, so little delivery—it's fair to say that Roberto Soldado's move to Tottenham Hotspur was one of the flops of the 2013/14 Premier League campaign.
Last season, the Spaniard put away 31 goals (in all competitions) for Valencia—the season before, he bagged 27.
With a strike rate like that, £26 million looked like money well spent at White Hart Lane.
In the first two games of the season, Soldado notched two goals—both of them penalties against Crystal Palace and Swansea, respectively. They may not have been scored through open play, but they were goals nonetheless.
Then, they disappeared. In fact, only two more goals were scored by the 28-year-old over the course of 17 games. One of those strikes? You guessed it, it was a penalty...
His season total was six goals in the 28 appearances he made in the Premier League, just two from open play.
Perhaps as he continues to adapt to life in a new country, Soldado will improve next season. However, this term, Spurs' investment brought very little return.
3. Ricky Van Wolfswinkel
When Ricky van Wolfswinkel scored against Everton in his first game as a Norwich player back on the opening day of the 2013/14 season, it looked like the Canaries had spent well.
The Carrow Road club shelled out £8.5 million to sign the 25-year-old from Sporting Lisbon—breaking the club's transfer record in the process.
The Dutchman's strike on August 17 remains his only goal for Norwich, who scored just 28 goals between them all season.
The most damning statistic of all? Van Wolfswinkel managed just nine shots on target all season, as seen in FourFourTwo.
2. Erik Lamela
After selling Gareth Bale last summer, Tottenham Hotspur blew a fortune in the transfer market, spending in excess of £100 million on new players.
Lamela made three starts for Spurs in the Premier League, played nine top-flight games in total and was involved in six ties in the Europa League.
In February, Spurs boss Tim Sherwood told The Guardian's David Hytner:
It is difficult to adapt to a different country, a different league and a different language but, when you are suffering all these niggles and something more than minor at the moment, it is disappointing for the lad.
But we signed him for the long term and we are sure that, in the end, he will come good for Tottenham and be a crowd favourite here. We are all big fans of him when we see him in training.
The Argentina international did not make one appearance for the North London club in 2014.
1. Marouane Fellaini
Marouane Fellaini represents all that was wrong about the David Moyes era at Manchester United. Out of his depth, uncomfortable and off the pace, it boggles the mind to think that United met Everton's £27.5 million asking price for the Belgian.
What made this deal—so patently a panic buy—so farcical was the fact that United could have signed the midfielder for £4 million less had they bought him in July. However, he put pen to paper on deadline day when his release clause was long expired, as reported by Paul Hirst in The Independent.
Out injured for large chunks of the season, Fellaini failed to get on the scoresheet in his 19 Premier League outings for United.